3 cheese and 2 charcuterie starter plate
The Girl and the Fig has really good food to offer because I believe they started out with really good ingredients! You hear this all the time on cooking shows, cooking radio shows, and read it all the time in good cookbooks - start with really good ingredients. Sonoma and Napa are know for wine starting from really good grapes, and they are also know for really excellent food starting with really good ingredients. Really good ingredients and really good food preparation techniques will always win tastebuds. When I was growing up in S. CA, I remember going grocery shopping with my mom. There are a few vegetable dishes she made that I really liked a lot (yes, kids veggies can be good!) but she would comb the area by going to the locally owned grocery store, the Brentwood CA Farmer's Market, Chinatown markets, and other groceries and literally hand pick each piece of vegetable, be it sprouts, green beans, or broccoli. She did the same with fruit, cherries, strawberries, apples, they were all individually inspected, so she knew how to get the best. When I am not getting real local fruits and vegetables from my yard, CSA or local farmer friends, I too am hand picking each piece of vegetable or fruit that comes into my house to make sure I feel like I am getting the best the venue has to offer.
The problem I have with some of the chain grocery store produce in town is that I may be picking the best of what they have to offer at a given moment, but sometimes the what they have to offer is not good quality to begin with. For example, the local chain grocery near me offers tomatoes all year long. Those tomatoes are hard, mealy, waxy, and tasteless because they were grown somewhere, picked green, gassed to add the red color, and put on the grocery store shelf for days and weeks. Tomatoes as these are not good to begin with, and picking the best of the worst is still the worst tomato. Seasonally, the end of summer is when the best tomatoes should be sought. The same store recently had avocados on sale, but most were rotten already, a couple oozing black avocado pus from a crack in the skin. Picking the best of a pile of rotten vegetables, is still rotten vegetables. It is so much better to choose seasonal and local vegetables and fruits when possible because they can be picked ripe and taste so much better. Last year, my CSA grew canteloupes that were so dark orange, dripping in juice, but also firm to the teeth, and with a deep sweet honey flavor that you cannot get from a canteloupe picked green and shipped with a hard and styrofoam texture. I still think of this excellent canteloupe and wish for more this year.
I realize that Sonoma and Napa are surrounded by 100 miles of the best and diverse growing regions in CA to the north and south. Olives, oranges, avocados, tomatoes, basil, grapes, lemons, broccoli, strawberries, blackberries, you name it, it can be grown within 100 miles of Sonoma. It seems that few parts of the world have this perfect diverse growing region. That is why I think that Somona and Napa are so about excellent ingredients and excellent food because these areas have access to the best that CA has to offer. I also know that stepping out of Sonoma and Napa areas of celeb chefs and wine makers, and venturing into the heart of the industrial farms in the Central Valley where the back breaking labor of food growing happens, there is a different story to be told... but that is a different blog post.
white wine flight
This blog post is about my fortunate time in Sonoma before meeting up with 360 friends, family, extended family and fans of my Great Aunt Mary memorial. We treated ourselves to a really nice lunch at The Girl and the Fig in the historic downtown of Sonoma. There is still 2 hour free parking around the square, but note to anyone, move your car every 2 hours because there is a meter-man who is not fooling around and he will come by just at the moment to offer a ticket. Also, another tip, it is rather impossible to get into this restaurant without a reservation, even at 1:30 pm on a Wednesday.
The Girl and the Fig (GF) restaurant was filled with a bunch of foodies and wine-ys. GF is about serving serving locally grown, locally made, and house made foods. Much of the meat and vegetables offered are from Sonoma Valley farms. The wine list is mostly from Sonoma and Napa with a few French and Australian thrown in. Most of the cheese offerings are locally made from locally raised grass-fed cows, and French milk (most likely grass-fed by French standards).
To start, we started with a cheese and charcuterie plate and a flight of white wine. When the waiter brought our starter and wine, he brought cards to the table explaining where the cheese and wine came from, and notes about flavor, texture and aroma. We start with a Bo Poisse made by the Bohemian Creamery in Sebastopol, CA. The Bo Poisse was made in the same tradition as an Epoisse. Epoisses is in Bourgogne where Epoisse cheese originates from. Traditional Epoisse is made from unpasteurized cows milk from pastured cows, shaped into a brie style round, and the rind is washed with marc de Bourgogne, a brandy. The odor and flavor of Epoisse is very strong. The Bo Poisse, I am guessing is made with pasteurized cows milk from pastured cows. The Bo Poisse was creamy and pungent in the nose and mouth. The next cheese we had was Tome Chevre Ailine Vignes from Nantes, France. This is a medium hard cheese that is washed with a brine and white wine during the aging process. The third cheese is a Fumaison from Auvergne, France. This cheese is a hard cows milk cheese that is hung like a dried sausage to age, and cold smoked. The rind was really thick and hard, so I did not eat the rind, and the cheese was a light golden brown color. This cheese, in the notes said it has a complex chicory and ash flavor. The sensation eating this cheese was even more intense than the Bo Poisse. The pungent flavor that hit the back edges of my tongue and nose was remarkable. We also had a house cured capicola and dried salami. The source of the pork to make the capicola and the salami came from Devil's Gulch Ranch
in Marin, CA. The capicola and salami were nice, but the cheese was sensational.
For our main dishes for lunch, we got duck confit and braised pork shoulder tartine. The duck confit came with skillet fried fingerling potatoes with roasted garlic and a frisee salad. I really like the duck confit because it was made properly. The meat was really smooth, butter and moist. The duck was cooked in fat at a temperature that was less than 212F/1ooC so that the moisture in the meat does not boil away. I thought getting the pork tartine was a bit of a toss up because there are some really excellent pork BBQ and slow cooked pork in Nashville and other areas of Tennessee, and I did not know how this place would stack up. The Girl and the Fig definitely had a Sonoma slant to it. It was really good. The pork was moist, and the onions, apples and mustard all worked very well together. Again, the pork was probably cooked really low and slow to give it the smooth moist texture. I have a feeling that all the dishes at this little restaurant are made with such care that our dishes were made with. We were not able to get dessert as we had somewhere to go. Next time, I will likely leave time for dessert.